Madison County has a seemingly endless network of picture-perfect country roads that are ideal for biking. Bicyclists from around the region come to Madison County to enjoy the outstanding riding conditions.
The annual bike event, The Tour de Madison, put Madison County on the map for cyclists approximately 25 years ago. Held every year (except 2020) in May, The Tour de Madison is one of the best group rides in the area. It features a metric century for avid cyclists, a challenging 45-mile ride, and a more forgiving family ride of about 15 miles.
Some of us ride frequently in Madison County and here are a few of our favorite bike routes:
Thrift Road/Ruth Road Loop – This is a spectacular ride of approximately 10 miles through hilly terrain near the Town of Madison. Park in town and bike to Thrift Road. There you will take a right and enjoy a downhill start to the ride. The scenic, rolling road will lead you for 5-6 miles past old farms and forested hillsides. You will pass the small community of Ruth and there begin a half-mile climb. After the climb, you are treated to a gentle, mostly downhill ride. The ride finishes with a short ¼ mile climb as you arrive back in the Town of Madison. To stay on the Thrift Road/Ruth Road Loop just take a right on every state road along the ride.
Poorhouse Road/Etlan Road Loop – Begin in Etlan (ask to park behind the store or at the antique shop) and ride south on FT Valley Road for about 2.5 mile. Turn right on Poorhouse Road, a somewhat hilly road that rolls through some of the loveliest farmland in Madison County. When you get to the old mountain town of Criglersville, take a right on the Old Blue Ridge Turnpike and enjoy awesome mountain views. Approximately 2 miles from Criglersville pull over at the Syria Store for a well-deserved cold drink and a snack. Go right on Weakly Hollow Road and in ½ mile take a right onto Etlan Road. Drink in the views of the Shenandoah National Park as you begin the ascent. After approximately ½ mile, the road becomes steeper and curvy. You will put in a good day’s work on this hill! Fear not though, once you reach the top the road rewards you with a mostly downhill ride for the 3-4 miles back to Etlan.
Hebron Valley Out and Back – This fairly level ride runs along one of Madison County’s best trout streams and through an open valley with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Park at the Mt. Olicet United Methodist Church on Weakly Hollow Road near Syria (unless it is a Sunday morning). Ride down Weakly Hollow Road for a couple hundred yards and take a left onto Bohannon Road. This quiet country road follows the Robinson River past fields and forests. Watch for fly fishers on this stocked trout stream. At Old Blue Ridge Turnpike go left for a couple scenic miles then right on FT Valley Road. Take a left on Hoover Road along the river. A gentle climb will bring you to Hebron Valley Road on the right. After the first mile, the road opens up to reveal to some of the most spectacular scenery in Madison County. Take a right on Hebron Church Road to the Hebron Lutheran Church. This is one of the most historic churches in the area and the setting for a debate between James Madison and James Monroe. Enjoy the shade and scout around the cemetery before retracing your steps back to Syria.
Exploring other country roads along the way can extend any of these routes. After your ride, celebrate with a wine tasting at DuCard Vineyard on Etlan Road.